Monday, April 17, 2017

Little Rock in South Auckland

Over at EyeContact I have written about the extraordinary objects that Nikau Hindin has put in Papakura's art gallery, and the repressed parts of that town's history that these objects represent.

When I was researching my review for EyeContact I benefited from Linda Johnson's thesis Maori Activism Across Borders 1950s - 1980s. As its title suggests, Johnson's text ranges widely through space and time, but it includes half a dozen acute and carefully researched pages about Maori resistance to racial segregation in Papakura and Pukekohe in the decades after World War Two.

Johnson reveals that the 'No Maoris' policy of Papakura's hotel made headlines in Sydney and Singapore, after it was challenged by Henry Rongomau Bennett in 1959, and she shows that Pukekohe's segregated shops, pubs, and movie theatres earned it the nickname 'the Little Rock of New Zealand' from the New York Times in 1961. Massey University has done New Zealand a service by putting Johnson's thesis online.

4 Comments:

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8:39 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

Racism isn't a one way street given that ethnocentrism is coded in our genes and you need to see a situation from all angles rather than those looking through a particular ideological lense.

12:52 pm  
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4:45 am  
Blogger Richard said...

A great thoughtful well written post Scott, and the excellent essay on Eyecontact. I have never been to the Papakura Art Gallery. I have been there, in fact we went once to protest at the SAS setting off for Afghanistan. But I didn't see an art gallery there...

The history is saddening. It seems that the European invasion and expropriation of Maori lands etc, while similar colonial events happened throughout the world, seems especially sad. In many ways it seems to me that the lands taken have been wrongly of used. Maori prior to about the mid 1850s used their ability to cooperate to form companies and supply Auckland with food and they had other companies even boat making. As the Waste Lands Act was used and other measures [this is in Sinclair I think but certainly it's in Paul Moon's 'The Edges of Empires'. ]

Whatever anyone's 'philosophy' re these things historical and artistic, it is important to have some idea of how history unfolded. We all love fantasy. But 'The heart that's fed on fantasy's grown brutal from the fare.' (Yeats)

Good that something interesting such as the aute has been found from what must have been fascinating times in a place that is now dulled with motorways and cars and the pettiness of those who have profited from land theft from Maori tribes: and that art work reflecting that past and a new time is put into an art gallery near the 'scene of the crime' so to speak.

9:29 pm  

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